With Record-High Heating And Fuel Costs, Insulation Is A Simple Way For Americans To Conserve Energy And Save Money
This winter, Americans are opening their home heating bills to find up to 35% increases in their energy costs over last year according to the Energy Information Administration. Fortunately, there are steps homeowners can implement that will immediately reduce their monthly costs and improve their comfort. Some of these steps may also help you qualify for a Federal tax credit of up to $500.
There are simple things that each of us can do at little or no cost that will help control energy use. One of the most effective things you can do to save energy and manage your energy costs is to add the right amount of insulation to your attic. Basements and crawlspaces are other good places to check since they are easy to access and likely to be under-insulated. When coupled with caulking and sealing around windows and doors, this can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs according to the Environmental Protection Agency. You can also turn down the thermostat when you are not home, install a programmable thermostat and replace regular incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
As a bonus, the recently passed Energy Policy Act of 2005 includes a tax credit of up to $500 for increasing insulation in homes. This incentive went into effect for improvements made in 2006 and 2007. The credit is for 10% of qualified home improvements like insulation for a total of $500 over the two tax years. Other measures you can take that will help earn you the tax credit include updating your windows and installing energy efficient heating and cooling equipment. The IRS is currently working on the final rules for this credit, but updated information is available at www.SimplyInsulate.com. This site also provides useful tips on determining how much insulation you have and how much you need, as well as advice on doing the job yourself or hiring a contractor.
The appropriate amount of insulation in a home varies depending upon where you live. The majority of American homes should have R-49 insulation in the attic for optimum savings and comfort. For most of us, this will mean adding between an R-19 and R-30 insulation to what you already have. Keep in mind, the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.
Good resources for adding insulation and increasing the energy efficiency of homes include:
With winter and high energy costs upon us, it is more important than ever for homeowners to take these few steps to reduce their monthly costs and save energy. The Harvard University School of Public Health estimates that there are more than 46 million under-insulated homes in the US, about 65% of all homes. Chances are good, you are one of them. Adding insulation, caulking around windows and doors, and using Energy Star products will continue to provide benefits to your wallet and your family’s comfort for years to come.